Parent Trap

Today I received this e-mail from Cap’n Perkins:
I’ve got a (responsible not crazy) parent that’s interested in monitoring the types of games her 13 year old son plays. Are there any parent themed gaming blogs I can aim her towards?

My fear is that most are designed like insane watch dog groups that will say any game is bad if it contains even minor mature content.

From my direct recollection, I could not think of any I had come across, though this is hardly surprising. As a non-parent (and one who has little chance of Surprise! Kid! jumped upon him), this is not something to which I pay particularly close attention. I’ve been asked by my own boss suggestions for her fourteen year old son and their recently acquired Wii (No More Heroes did not make that cut), so perhaps starting to compile some more information couldn’t hurt.

Upon arriving home from work I did a very basic Google search and came up with What They Play. It’s a fairly decent site (even if my nape hair rankles at “Games for Girls” and its content), though largely user generated. While this has the benefit of knowing what other parents think, you have to quite often take things with a grain of salt. Not every parent is like you, and the most useful tip I can think of when making decisions is that you know your child better than anyone else–use that knowledge.

I’m also rather dubious of the user generated content when polls like this rear their heads. Somehow, I believe I’d be a vastly different parent than most of those concerned about two men kissing.

My own mother made restrictions based on maturity level, so I was playing Roberta Williams’s Phantasmagoria at a much earlier age than my brother. My mother actually played the game herself, however. Not all parents have an interest in gaming, nor do they have the time.

There was also a page with tips for parents, compiled by the ESRB.

As I watch more and more of my own peers grow bloated with child, it strikes me that I know a lot of people who played or still play videogames. With each successive generation, it is apparent that more parents will know what’s available and what is suitable for children. Less than stellar (and sometimes outright horrible) parents will always exist, but I’d like to believe those that are truly concerned can educate themselves.

As stated over at Versus CluClu Land recently, information on games is quite readily available to anyone wishing to roll back the sleeves and do a little intelligent searching online. Separating the wheat from the chaff becomes a task in itself, but that’s why I’m rather impressed with the above parent’s asking someone she felt might be knowledgeable in that particular area.

I believe gaming is becoming a much more acceptable pasttime, one parents find hard to deny children at the very least. Though Obama might urge parents to put the video games away, I do believe that there can be benefit from most forms of media–in moderation. There is no reason that videogames have to be seen as a metaphor for underachievement. Most of the rather hardcore videogamers I’ve known have been rather bright and done well in school (though this is probably largely due to the classes I myself took).

Good luck, parents.

Anyone else with further suggestions?

About Denis Farr

Writer interested in intersectionality, games, comics, nerdy stuff in general, theater, and how it all mixes. Graduate of Wabash College, with studies in Theater, English, German, and Gender Studies.
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4 Responses to Parent Trap

  1. Chris Lepine says:

    Why, Gamer Dad of course!http://www.gamingwithchildren.com/His site also had a bustling online community that I’m sure would be a great place to start interacting with other parents.I’m glad to see someone taking an active role in their child’s gaming tastes. My mother was quite uninvolved with me and my sister’s gaming habits growing up, but she did always make sure that we had something to play.

  2. Denis Farr says:

    Thank you, Chris. I forwarded the site on to Cap’n Perkins.It is always lovely to see a parent concerned and intrepid enough to actually step forward and admit s/he does not know something and wants an avenue of information that isn’t wholly biased.

  3. Thanks for the guidance. When a vacuum exists in criticism or theory it always feels like the first settlers to set the tone are the fringe elements and extremist voices.I’m passing on all the blogs and then I also sent along my copies of the Katamari franchise as you would have to be dead to not love those games.

  4. Denis Farr says:

    I do wonder if the first Katamari will be the next generation’s substitute for David Bowie’s crotch in Labyrinth.Glad we were able to find non-extremist examples.

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